Articles Posted in Estate Planning

Estate planning relies on a countless number of assumptions. One assumption is that assets only flow in one direction: from older person to younger person. In reality, this does not always have to be the case. By making the most of some unconventional estate planning techniques, people can realize some tax and estate planning advantages. This is where the concept, of “reverse estate planning” comes in.

Some adult children who have more assets than parents and can help take care of the older generation. In these cases, reverse estate planning can play a valuable role. This is particularly true when parents will not be able to use the entirety of their estate and gift tax exemptions. This is just as true if a parent is in a lower tax bracket than their child. 

Tax Advantages through Reverse Estate Planning

Estate planning is not written in stone. Instead, estate plans should be reviewed and reconsidered when various major life events occur. This article reviews some of the big life changes that should cause you to review the terms of your estate plan. This article reviews some of the things you should consider reviewing after these changes happen. As always, if you have any questions or concerns about revisions to your estate plan, one of the best things you can do is speak with an experienced attorney.


Marriage involves the combination of two lives. Understandably, your estate plan should be revised following a marriage to reflect this change. This will likely mean adding your new spouse’s name to insurance policies and estate planning documents. You should also take the steps necessary to revise your status on your will, trusts, and deeds. 

Even if you’ve already abandoned your New Years’ resolution, you should still do your best this year to focus on your loved ones and what’s best for your future. One of the best things that any of us can do during times of uneasy political or economic times is to focus on what’s important. Your planning for what lies ahead should understandably address critical issues like what happens if you become incapacitated or unexpectedly pass away. This article reviews some of the basic frameworks that you should start (or revise) your estate plans in 2022.

Critical Questions to Ask About the Status of Your Estate Plans

Some of the important issues that you should ask about the status of your estate as you decide the strength of your estate plan include:

You might have considered utilizing a living trust. Often, these trusts are a good idea if a person wants to maintain assets for loved ones without subjecting assets to significant taxes or probate.

In reality, however, people often forget a whole range of other types of trusts including revocable and irrevocable living trusts. The type of trust you utilize can make a big difference in the outcome of your estate. Pick the right type of trust and you can really simplify the estate planning process. Pick the wrong trust and you can end up facing a range of complications.

Revocable means revisable, while irrevocable means a person cannot later changes a trust’s terms barring a few exceptions. A revocable trust lets the trust creator modify the trust at some later date. With irrevocable trusts, a person lacks the ability to modify the terms of the trust. 

In the recent case of Clark v. Clark, two brothers initiated legal action against another brother concerning the other brother’s ability to function as trustee of a trust as the result of a brain injury. The men’s mother established a testamentary trust previously that held family business and appointed the third brother as trustee. The will stated that if anything happened to the third brother, the other two brothers would be designated as co-trustees. The two brothers claimed that due to the brain injury, the third brother could no longer function in this role. As a result, the two brothers thought to be named successor co-trustees under the will. 

While the court also considered a nuanced injunction issue, the court ultimately relied on a plain text reading to determine that due to the third brother’s brain injury, the brother had stopped or was not capable of functioning as a trustee and that the other two brothers were appointed successor co-trustees. 

What Makes Succession Planning Critical

The South Dakota Supreme Court recently reversed a circuit court’s order denying a petition pursuing appointment of a special administrator to seek a wrongful death claim for a deceased man’s estate. The Supreme Court held that the circuit court abused its discretion in failing to address certain discovery motions before deciding a special administrator petition.

After the man in question passed away, the circuit court decided that the deceased man’s surviving wife should function as his estate’s personal representative. The man’s children then petitioned for appointment of a special administrator to seek a wrongful death claim for the deceased man’s estate and later served discovery requests on the surviving wife pursuing information related to the petition. The court then denied the special administrator petition and found that the discovery issues were moot.

The Supreme Court reversed the circuit court’s decision and held that the circuit court gave the man’s children the chance to develop and later present evidence connected to their petition. 

In the recent case of Rickard v. Coulimore, the plaintiff purchased the subject residential real estate from a living trust. The plaintiff then initiated against the trust owners over damages connected to defects in the property that they had failed to disclose.

The Oklahoma Supreme granted certiorari to assess an interlocutory order to decide whether the transaction was excluded from the Residential Property Condition Disclosure Act. The court determined that the transaction represented a transfer by a fiduciary who was not an owner-occupant of the real estate in the court of a trust’s administration and that the transaction was exempt from the Act. As a result, the court affirmed partial summary judgment in regards to the inapplicability of the Act, and the case was remanded for additional proceedings.

The Role of the Residential Property Condition Disclosure Act

Over half the marriages in the United States result in divorce. For many people, divorce ends up being one of the most difficult experiences in their life. As a result, when attorneys present a person with divorce paperwork, this individual often fails to consider every little detail of how it will impact their life and does not update their estate plan. Unfortunately, failing to update estate planning documents after divorce could lead to many undesirable complications

A Hypothetical Situation

Imagine, a couple who got married in 2005. The wife had one daughter from a previous marriage. Even though the husband never officially adopted the girl, he treated the girl as she were his daughter during the marriage. A joint trust even referred to the girl as the couple’s “only living child” and named the girl as a residuary beneficiary. These terms have substantial meaning under the law and not considering these statements after a divorce can create substantial challenges.

In 2022, the annual exclusion for federal Gift Taxes was increased to $16,000 per individual annually. Even though a near-universal acceptance exists that gift-giving can play an important role in estate planning, a person should consider various issues before making gifts.

The way that gifts are made can have a substantial impact on beneficiaries. This is especially true if the party who receives a gift is below the age of 21. Direct gifts made to young people can have their own challenges which include exposure to creditors and limited control over how gifts are made. Consequently, it’s a wise idea in these situations to consider placing gifts in a trust.

The Danger Behind Direct Gifts

The 2020s have been filled with tension. First, in 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic emerged. Then, race tensions hit an all-time high following the death of George Floyd and several others. Now, the invasion of Ukraine has left many people in more difficult situations than ever before. All of these events are enough to make even the calmest person uneasy.

The most seasoned estate planning professionals are used to addressing two major sources of uneasiness with clients: death and taxation. Planning for these certain events will help to reduce the uneasiness that a person feels. While it’s impossible to control the future and the state of the world, people can engage in thorough estate planning and be fully prepared for any complications that might happen and impact their estate plans.

Estate planning frequently attempts to pass or minimize risk. Some of the most helpful risk-avoiding or risk-shifting techniques that people utilize in an estate planning environment include:

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